Seanad debates

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

8:00 pm

Photo of John MoloneyJohn Moloney (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)

I apologise that the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, cannot be present. I will respond to this matter on behalf of the Minister. Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority on 1 December 2009, the implementation of infrastructure projects in the greater Dublin area, such as the DART underground project, now comes under the remit of the National Transport Authority rather than the Minister for Transport. The legislative basis for this is section 11(1)(e) of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, which refers to the principal functions of the authority being "to secure the provision of public transport infrastructure".

The Government published the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 on 24 November. The four year plan sets out the capital allocations for the Department of Transport for the period 2011-14. It is important to remember that no project has been cancelled and planning and design will continue so projects can commence as funding becomes available. At the time of the publication of the four year plan the Minister for Transport advised it would not be possible to deliver the tunnel element of the DART underground project in the immediate period. However, the Minister emphasised that some of the re-signaling and associated works, which have capacity benefits in and of themselves, will proceed over the next four years. This will prepare the network for the delivery of the underground tunnel once financial resources permit.

In the meantime, An Bord Pleanála has commenced the oral hearing for DART underground. Matters relating to oral hearings on infrastructure projects such as the DART underground come entirely under the remit of An Bord Pleanála. It is unlikely that the railway order will be made by the end of 2011. The DART underground project is an extensive programme involving the construction of an underground tunnel, to be delivered by public private partnership, and the delivery of various other re-signaling and associated works to facilitate the integration of the northern and Kildare lines via the tunnel.

When completed, the project will provide the missing link that will deliver a fully integrated rail network for the greater Dublin area, linking with all modes of public transport, including metro north. As the Minister for Transport indicated yesterday, the capital provision for public transport investment in 2011 is €394 million. This will enable the completion of the Luas extension to Citywest and the continuation of advance works on metro north. It also provides funding for planning and design work on other Transport 21 projects with a view to the earliest possible delivery as financial resources become available. Funding is also being maintained for a number of important public transport programmes, including railway safety, accessibility, integrated ticketing, traffic management and bus priority.

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